The Second Amendment, the NRA, and the quest to militarize American life

loesch-town-hall

Parkland shooting survivor-turned-activist Emma Gonzalez (left) grills NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch on gun control.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of the most hotly debated pieces of text in history. For devotees, it guarantees the most important freedom ever enshrined in a government document. For critics, it is a dangerous relic of colonial history with little relevance to modern life. Continue reading

Advertisements

How the gun debate and the War on Terror are connected

AP_San_Bernardino_shooting_suspects_151205_DC_4x3_992

San Bernardino shooting suspects, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.

Right-wing extremism received heavy scrutiny for a few days following the Planned Parenthood attacks. Commentators and left-wing politicians criticized the venomous rhetoric the right uses to denounce its opponents, one of which – the red herring cry of “baby parts” – was used by the Planned Parenthood shooter himself. Since the San Bernardino shooting, committed by Muslims a few days later, white terror has largely fallen off the radar. It shouldn’t.

What hasn’t fallen off the radar is the gun debate. It’s being waged as aggressively now as it’s been in years, with President Obama calling for restricted access to assault weapons and other mild reforms. Conservatives, as expected, reacted with total apoplexy. There has been a strange development, though, as the gun debate has become part of the discussion on Islamic terror. Continue reading

Gun debate’s most important question: where do they come from?

San_Bernardino_2

The San Bernardino shooters were killed in a standoff with police after claiming 14 innocent lives and wounding another 21.

In their coverage of the San Bernardino shooting, the BBC introduced the story with the phrase, “Just another day in the United States of America; another day of gunfire, panic and fear.” As The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor aptly tweeted, “It only makes sense that the BBC treat a mass shooting in America like a carbombing in Baghdad.” Continue reading

Umpqua is far less about Christian persecution than it is firearm proliferation

This image of presidential candidate Ben Carson has sparked a hashtag movement, but the FBI's hate crime statistics show it's hardly a bold or courageous stand.

This image of presidential candidate Ben Carson has sparked a hashtag movement, but the FBI’s hate crime statistics show it’s hardly a bold or courageous stand.

Christians are experiencing grief and solidarity over reports that the Umpqua Community College gunman who killed nine people and himself in Oregon on October 1 was targeting their religion. There are conflicting testimonies about what the shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, said to his victims, but all say religion was a theme in the killings.

Horrific as the massacre in Oregon was, it is not sufficient to establish the existence of a war on Christians. FBI statistics for 2013 show 116 hate crimes perpetrated against Catholics and Protestants out of nearly 6,000 hate crime incidents, or less than 2 percent. Continue reading

Tragedy is the perfect time to discuss an issue

An all too familiar American scene: victims of a mass shooting taken to a hospital in Roseburg, OR.

An all too familiar American scene: victims of a mass shooting taken to a hospital in Roseburg, OR.

Another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, has brought gun violence to the front page. At least ten people were killed, including the gunman, and another seven were injured. President Obama responded to the carnage forcefully, preempting the standard gun lobby responses that the answer is more guns and that it’s inappropriate to score political points off of tragedy.

The first claim, that more guns are the solution, is pretty thoroughly debunked so it hardly needs addressing here. The second claim, that it’s cheap to score political points off of tragedy, is truly a refuge of the scoundrel. Continue reading

A good guy with a gun is not going to save you

The New York Daily News cover shows still frames from the Roanoke shooter's point-of-view film.

The New York Daily News cover shows still frames from the Roanoke shooter’s point-of-view film.

On Wednesday, two journalists at a CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia were murdered during a live interview with a city official for the station’s morning broadcast. The gunman, a disgruntled former employee, killed himself after posting point-of-view footage of the killing online. So far, the gun lobby hasn’t commented, but it’s not hard to imagine their response: “If only those journalists had been armed.”

It’s the same tired refrain whenever there is a high-profile shooting. Dozens of schoolchildren murdered by a madman? Arm the teachers. Americans picked off like fish in a barrel by a lunatic in a movie theater? Arm the ushers.

The televised Virginia shooting comes just days after a damning report out of the University of Alabama by professor Adam Lankford listing the United States number one in the world, by a wide margin, for public mass shootings. Continue reading

Confederate flag discussion distracts from what really happened in Charleston

The new face of American terror: white males worried about minorities taking over

The new face of American terror: white males worried about minorities taking over “their” country.

Even as mass shootings in America have become almost a banality, last week’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina manages to stand out. White supremacist Dylann Roof brought a concealed handgun into an African-American church, issued a series of terrifying proclamations about a race war, and murdered nine people. He intentionally left witnesses so they could repeat his words. Later research uncovered a trove of racism, including a detailed manifesto and pictures of the shooter wearing patches of racist African regimes on his jacket.

Any sane person could acknowledge that our gun culture, combined with venomous and widely proliferated rhetoric about black “takers” and “thugs,” were the ingredients for this act of terror. Yet in the tragedy’s immediate aftermath, conservatives threw their hands up in the air, offered meaningless condolences and said, essentially, “Who knows what went wrong or what we can do about it?” Continue reading